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Debian Upgrades

Debian Leaders: We Need to Release More Often 460

daria42 writes "The lack of a new stable release of Debian GNU/Linux since July 2002 is fuelling the campaigns of many candidates for the project's Debian Project Leader role, with many pushing for a shorter and more stable release cycle to stop Linux users heading for greener and more updated pastures."
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Debian Leaders: We Need to Release More Often

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:51AM (#11972691)
    Here's some fresh Debian: []
  • well.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schnits0r ( 633893 ) <nathannd@[ ] ['sas' in gap]> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:52AM (#11972693) Homepage Journal
    I would like to be the first to say "duh". Debian is old. Despite it being stable, it's often a good idea to have the newest programs to keep up with the newest technologies.

    However, I do find that using a netinstall version of the "testing" release tends to keep up to date with most packages.
  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:55AM (#11972712)
    I have no problem playing with aptitude from their latest unstable Sarge (it's great BTW), but it makes it very hard for me to recommend Debian on servers to customers when the latest stable release is eons old. Yes, I know there are ways around this... but let's face it, from a customer point of view it's an small image problem Debian has.
  • debian (Score:2, Interesting)

    by prurientknave ( 820507 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:58AM (#11972741)
    I suppose an apt-get answer to yum,portage et-al seems appropriate in exchange for the debian written security patches that would only be included in the stable branch. They should focus on i686 binaries instead. Since such a small minority of debian users are still using 386's
  • Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:00AM (#11972754) Homepage Journal
    Geez. All I can say is Duh. Yes, you need to release more often. Indeed, you need to release once. Release period. Boy, did I goof by deciding to base the UserLinux release management on Debian. Good idea in theory. And I couldn't get all of the time I wanted to work on the project. But I finally got my act together, but Debian didn't release, and didn't release, and didn't release, and still didn't release. And I will start working on UL again when there is a distro to base it upon.


  • Debian thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:01AM (#11972757)
    As a new Linux user, what I heard from all my friends was, "don't use Debian, use Mepis or Knoppix or Ubuntu." It seems to be the opinion of many that Debian is nice, but it's not worth using a plain version of Debian, because these other distros have built it into something better. At least, that's the impression. So it seems that Debian is losing "mindshare" among new Linux users to a degree.
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:06AM (#11972789)
    It would be really nice if Stable were updated at least yearly. I'm willing to play with Unstable or Testing if it's for my own use only, but if it's for someone else then I may as well either use a heavily-package-based distro like RedHat or SuSE, or Slackware if I'm going to have to build a bunch by hand anyway.

    I guess that it'd been awhile since I last installed Debian from scratch, I didn't know that it has been two years.
  • Good news, I think (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:11AM (#11972811)
    I think this is good news that some of the potential leadership in Debian has reconized this as a problem.

    I've been a Debian fan for some time, but I find I am racking my newly built critical servers on RHEL3&4 just because so many of the Debian packages are 'stale'. In a lot of enviroments, running testing is unacceptable and using stable is to far out of date for the intended use of the machine. We are definatly in limbo as far as Debian installs.

    I really hope they pull this together, without Debian the landscape changes dramatically for binary stable systems.

    But, the biggest problem I can see is that by releasing early and often it creates a larger legacy code base that needs to be maintained but does not have the resources to do so. You cannot effectly update a server farm of hundreds to thousands of machines to a new version within a short legacy cycle, yet it is a huge burden to maintain the legacy code for any lengh of time.
  • Even Slackware.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:12AM (#11972819)
    Is up to date, even considering the head honcho's health problems.

    There's no excuse for no Debian stable releases since 2002.

    Maybe Bruce should base UserLinux on that.

  • Not to mention... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jrushton ( 806560 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:13AM (#11972828)
    Not to mention Gentoo.

    But I'll wisely keep quiet so not to incur the wrath of Slashdot...
  • no shit, einstien! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:21AM (#11972879)
    Debian developers basically have two options: either reign in the development cycle or rename "Debian Stable" to "Debian Obsolete". I've been a long-time Debian user, but now I too am looking for greener pastures. The question is where to? Gentoo? Fedora? Is there something that compares to apt-get?
  • We have over 100 Linux servers, but we chose CentOS as our default OS. We could have chosen Debian instead. In fact, the control panel we use for our customers (DirectAdmin []) runs on Debian. But here's the #1 reason I didn't choose Debian:

    [hypothetical scenario]
    Customer: "What operating system version do you use?"
    Us: "Debian unstable."
    Customer: "...unstable??"

    The close-behind #2 reason is the installer, but I understand that's getting fixed. IMHO, Debian should strive to release a new stable version every 6 months, with 12 months being the maximum time between new stable releases. As it is, I cannot justify using Debian for business purposes when their offering that coincides with what we need is labeled "unstable".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:42AM (#11972998)
    Debian _UNSTABLE_ is shipping Xfree 86 4.3. There have been, quite literally, _thousands_ of bugs fixed since then.

    Stable does not always equal good.
  • debian (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VAXGeek ( 3443 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:48AM (#11973039) Homepage
    it's important to look at debian as a concept as a whole. when you say "debian stable", you're talking a particular snapshot of all these programs 3 or 4 years ago that have been analyzed and proven stable. if you are looking for what linux provided as a whole 3 years ago, you are probably in the right place. why is it so bad to have a clearly defined role for this "stable" distrobution? it's called "stable" because that is exactly what it is. rock solid stable. if you want fancy jazz, no one stops you from using testing or unstable. despite the scary connotations, testing has proven to be stable as well.
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:56AM (#11973076)
    This is a "once more" new iteration of the same old idea of Debian updating their stable branch not often enough. And as always, I have to respectfully but totally disagree.

    For one, people should really understand and see, that not all Linux distributions are just there to suit the newbie (l)users' desktop needs. This is just the attitude people gather while being full-blown Windows users and then fiddling around with some Linux, thinking it's cool and if he can't find his way around, then at least that';s another reason to bash.

    Debian's stable branch is just _the_ perfect distro for servers. You can argue with this statement, but I will _not_ listen to home users' hysterical crap about the newest kde/gnome being necessary. There are places where that simply doesn't matter.

    Where I spend my working hours very few people use Linux distros on their desktops, really very few, but almost all our servers are Linux based. The two of them where I hve root access are Debians. One is a current stable Woody, being web&mail&db&cvs&related server which I installed last year because the previous machine had a major blowup. The other is a Debian Potato (!) which is the previous [i.e. before Woody] stable branch, which is our dns server, up and working for ... well, since about the Potato release.

    No desktop environments, no x, just good stable and reliable code which I trust and - most importantly - _very_ _easy_ to maintain.

    At home I use Debian SID for about 4 years now. Updated about weekly, _very_ stable and usable. It has all the desktop fun I need. Most important: it hasn't been reinstalled since the first install just always copied over to the changed machine (about once in a year, I always hand-build my machines ever since I became acquainted with the screw driver), updated the necessary stuff and keep it always apt-get dist-pgrade-ed.

    For me, and for many others out there, Debian - and now the quite many Debian-based distros, hey, there are even Debian SID-based distros now (!) - represent _the_ _GNU/Linux_ _distro_. For the others, there are plenty of others you can use and that is exactly why Lnux distro forking is a Good Thing, try not to forget that.

  • Re:well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:58AM (#11973086) Journal
    Back in the 20th century Debian was not that old.

    My guess is FOSS really took off unexpectingly and Linux became ported to more architectures besides x86 and the Alpha. This caused the folks at Debian to focus on everybody including the atari users.

    If a bug was fixed for most platforms but the amiga users (all 15) was still present, then package X would not be updated on any of the other releases. This is whats hurting it.

    I hate to say it but the x86, powerpc, and sparc versions should be ahead and have a later version then the others. FreeBSD for example has alpha and powerpc as different tiers of support, although alpha is still pretty stable.

  • by benjcurry ( 754899 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:05AM (#11973113) Homepage
    Check out Arch Linux []. It's a bit young, but up-to-date, fast, elegant and great package management.
  • by buddha42 ( 539539 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:12AM (#11973142)
    Debian has three options
    1. Reduce the scope of the project
      • fewer architectures
      • fewer packages
    2. Add development resources
      • hard to do with volunteers
      • inject some money (bounties?)
    3. Streamline operations
      • reduce some of their bureaucracy and excessive policies

    Personally I think they would be best served by doing a little of each.

  • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grozzie2 ( 698656 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:14AM (#11973151)
    The point of releasing a 'distribution' is to solve shortcomings, and create solutions, not to sit back, wait for others to do the work, then rebadge it with your own name, then try take credit for thier work.

    If you really want UL to be 'something' and 'out there', why not just do the required work, and 'get it out'. If you have to wait for a debian update, where is the value add in the UL?

  • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:24AM (#11973185) Homepage Journal
    Does Mepis actually contribute back to the community?
  • Re:Duh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JerkyBoy ( 455854 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:24AM (#11973187) Homepage Journal
    Bruce is correct, and other developers are saying the same thing. I wanted to use VLC in conjunction with a Tcl/Tk app., and was surprised to suddenly find VLC missing from the "testing" Debian distro. A look at the VideoLan site [] revealed why:
    You should not be using Debian testing unless you perfectly know what you are doing. It is almost impossible to support Debian testing and there are no plans to do it.
    Kind of a shock to the system, but the problem seems to lie at least somewhere in /usr/lib...
  • summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by evulgenius ( 868624 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:46AM (#11973258)
    Debian stable is too old. It doesn't work on latest x86 and PPC hardware. Testing is fine for desktop, but for people who need stable and secure system for servers it's not an option. Since there is no security support for testing and there still are some bugs.
    So we really need stable releases more often. Doing it by dropping some architectures makes sense to me, if you can't buy the hardware anyway. Also developers can still work on their favourite architecture and release if they keep up to the speed those 4 most popular architectures are releasing. It just means that i386 won't be waiting if there are some bugs on m68k.

    And yes, I run debian testing
  • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:50AM (#11973277) Homepage Journal
    I think what he was trying to say was, why would someone choose UserLinux over, say, Ubuntu, if there's no new work being put into it? I don't know anything about UserLinux but I thought I'd do my part to stop this conversation spiraling out of control. We all know you "do stuff" for Free Software, your antagoniser just wanted to know what you do for UserLinux.
  • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:14AM (#11973350) Homepage Journal
    The essential reason to choose UserLinux is that it avoids the conflict between Open Source and producing income that all commercial distributions develop while supporting the enterprise. Fully Open-Source distributions won't make a profit over the long term. You have to hold something back like certification or bug reports. And when you do that, the result is something less than Open Source. Rather than give up on fully Open Source distributions, I concluded that we don't have to make money from them. There are enough interested parties to support them as non-profits.

    The policy of the UserLinux project is for all development to be carried out within Debian, not within our own repository. Customers can take a much greater role because the Debian organization admits them fairly.

    Of course, the long release delay has made something of a fool of me - because so far we've only proven that this non-profit can't get it together to make a release.

    There is a lot more in the white paper on the project site.


  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:29AM (#11973394)
    The answer is so simple I am surprised nobody has mentioned it.

    Trim down the number of "official" packages. Right now there is something like 3000 packages in the debian system. Why not cur that down to a thousand. Take the top 1000 most popular and best maintained backages and call it debian.

    The rest of the packages can go into "ports" or "contrib" or something. They would still be there if anybody wanted to install them but they would not hold up release cycles, debian would not guarantee they would work with the rest of the system.

    The great thing about debian is that by using stable you are promised that nothing you install will break your system. They can still promise that but just with less packages.
  • by aug24 ( 38229 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:24AM (#11973570) Homepage
    What they need is a new release for people like you (and me on my servers). They could call it Debian 'OldButFuckingSolidAsARock'. Then stable could be, say, approximately a year later subject to pretty damn good stability (after all, no software can be guaranteed perfect yet), unstable and testing to follow.

    Three levels just isn't enough to grade sensibly from known-near-perfect to bleeding-edge.

  • Re:This is comical.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:24AM (#11973571)
    "Enterprise Edition", "Personal Edition" and "Exxtreme! Edition".

    If you were running for that Debian Project Leader Role, I would vote for you.

    We're using SuSE because we can't use pacakges from something called "unstable"

  • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:00AM (#11973671) Homepage
    I 'grew up' on Debian, but got frustrated 18 months ago when I had to mess around for hours with dependencies - there seemed no point in using Debian stable if I had to use loads of backports and manually install some libraries just to get a working up-to-date web browser and other essentials. I then ended up getting bits from unstable, and my mixed-distribution system regularly broke.

    I switched to Mandrake, but really couldn't stand urpmi: it's soooo slooow! Honestly, why does it have to download a multi-megabyte package list? It's a complete dog compared to apt-get.

    Then, a couple of months ago, I got a new hard drive for my laptop, and decided to try Ubuntu. As far as I can tell, they do exactly what you describe. There's a list of standard packages needed for a desktop distribution, which are tested and work very well. (The 'main' section). There's then a 'restricted' section, that has packages that cannot be included in the main distribution (e.g. because they don't meet the strict Debian definition of 'free'). Then there's the 'universe' section, that has lots of useful packages that install cleanly, but aren't aggressively tested.

    The whole thing works extremely well, has all of the Debian goodness, but with a strict 6 month release cycle.

    My philosophy now is: Ubuntu on the workstation, Debian stable on the server.

  • Re:This is comical.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:15AM (#11973714)

    I for one am very glad that Debian does not take your advice. The differences between Enterprise, Personal, Exxtreme are arbitrary and subject to interpretation by the user and mardetroids.

    My desktop might be your extreme. Who are you to tell me what my installation is?

  • by droopycom ( 470921 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:51AM (#11973957)
    "Release When Ready" is a good principle

    "But Release When 8000+ packages ready" is next to impossible and rather dumb...

    Theres probably something wrong with their paradigm(*), I guess they could also release packages individually or in groups,they kind of do that with testing in fact ...

    Stable is supposedly for Critical Entreprise application, but who in this category needs 8000+ packages, including n minesweeper and x IM client?

    Maybe the solution is less packages in Stable, just keep the most important component and apps in there. ... Well off course then they will have to decide what make it through and what not, which off course will lead to endless debates, if those debates are not eclipsed by debates on what is free and what is not and if non-free should be kept etc...

    (*) Off course not i dont really know what that word means...

  • by cheezemonkhai ( 638797 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:15AM (#11974802) Homepage
    No i'm not talking about the spoilers and alloy wheels.

    Seriously Gentoo has x86(stable) & ~x86(testing) and there equivalents for each platform, and different packages are considered stable or not on a per platform basis.

    SUrely something like this for debian, with prehaps core architectures being released together (eg x86, ppc & Alpha).

    Also how about Stable, Release and Testing/unstable as better names.

    Testing & unstable all sound like they are broken, when infact testing usually isn't.

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